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March 26, 2006

Terrance Brennan - Artisanal Cheeses

Many thanks to my old boss, Terrance Brennan, of Picholine & Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro restaurants and the Artisanal Cheese Center – a state-of-the-art cheese storage, aging, distribution, and education center. Terrance has generously donated towards my trip.

Artisanal has a great bistro menu, but in my opinion, the best part of the restaurant is the cheese counter. Don’t miss it! It is tucked away at the back and I encourage getting up from your seats to take a look at the cheeses. There are over a hundred of them which I can vouch for having unpacked each and every one of them Saturday and Sunday mornings, once upon a time. It was a labor of love and the payoff was that I got to try them all! You can even sample one or two to help you decide what to order and there is a great complementary wine selection to match. Artisanal is great for dinner or for a few drinks and a cheese plate after work.

I have had some of my most memorable meals at Picholine, in particular, the meal two friends and I had around a showing of Madame Butterfly at Lincoln Center. I won’t describe the meal in detail here partially because I don’t remember them all, but it was a special day for all of us involved on the receiving end. Picholine caters in part to the pre-opera, pre-ballet, or pre-whatever is playing at Lincoln center dinner crowd but is also great for those leisurely meals that most of us only get once in a blue moon or even a tasty bite at the bar.

And finally the cheese center…Artisanal Cheese Center is a multi-function space serving wholesale and retail (internet/catalog) customers as well as providing a fromage education to those interested. The classes are taught by a variety of instructors including the best fromagiere around, Max McCalman. You can learn about and order cheese from the website or call toll free (877) 797-1200 to order over the phone.

All of Terrance’s businesses are located in New York City, but the cheeses, cheese baskets and cheese accessories can be sent anywhere in the country.


March 24, 2006

Fear & Apprehension - Part 1

I keep trying to write an entry about fear. Fear of others for me, my own fear and it keeps coming out trite. Maybe if I keep trying it will come to me.

Were all afraid of something and who isn’t afraid when traveling much out of their own realms? Suburb dwellers are afraid of cities. City dwellers are afraid of the bumps and creaks in the night and the animals moving about outside the flimsy walls of a summer cabin. I’m more afraid of other people, but I also believe that most people are good.

You cannot do much about being targeted as a tourist. Sure, you can dress down, hide your money, be aware of your surrounds, but traveler or tourist, as someone of European descent; you will stick out in non-western countries. I’ve not been anywhere like this so I’m essentially talking out of my ass, but by the very fact that your surroundings are drastically different from anything you are regularly used to make you a target.

I’m starting to become bogged down in the details of what and how and there are so many details for something like this: finances when gone, equipment, using the equipment, how much to take, what to take, communications, a will, money issues – how to get & where to put, maps, health precautions, health insurance, dealing with parents (who needless to say were not happy and are not supportive), electrical plugs, sponsorship and Heifer donations – which almost no one has replied to. Much love and thanks to those of you who have replied!

So the bike is being made now and unfortunately will not be ready until mid-May, which gives me a whopping 2 weeks to ride it before flying south. Not that much time, but I will be breaking in a Brooks B17S saddle on my mountain bike and trying out the other stuff.

To get an idea of my “to do” list:
1. Make Dr appt to get meds for trip and check to see if she can give me two more shots
2. Get 3rd rabies shot
3. Make will; put finances in order; arrange to have rent paid
4. Order shorts; return another pair of shorts
5. Test stove
6. Test filter
7. Test ride gear on old bike
8. Order medical kit, bug crap, water purifiers
9. Start packing, culling, and repacking, and culling, and repacking….
10. Order maps – overall maps and specific department maps for some locations. I don’t want to head out from Bolivia to Argentina without a decent map
11. Continue soliciting anyone who will give me a chance
12. Call about 10 people for advice, help, contact, and just plain comfort
13. Figure out what rims to get and what width Schwalbe tires to get
14. Order tires, tire liners, tubes
15. Get duct tape, bungee cords, door stops
16. Get security crap for luggage: ties and baggage straps and plastic to group and protect on plane
17. Research and read research on scams and “how to protects oneself” as a female.
18. Study Spanish
19. Make Spanish school reservation
20. Buy plane ticket

I think that’s enough for now, my head is spinning again, but it is helpful to see the list on the screen. After my mother leaves that is what I will be doing all weekend – making lists.

March 12, 2006

Donation Request

Dear Friends, Family and Other Supportive Individuals,

Howdy everyone. I’m writing to let you know that I will be leaving at the beginning of June for a four to six month, 5,000 mile, bicycle trip in South America (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile) and I need your help.

About a year ago I was feeling rather directionless and begin looking for a worthwhile goal to pursue. I began reading a book by an older woman, Anne Mustoe, who had set about the world solo on a bike. Coincidently, I also stumbled across the web pages of a woman who had ridden from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and raised money for a charity. I was inspired by these two women to pursue this South American journey as a beginning of the next phase in my life and, as importantly, to try and help others at the same time.

I am trying to raise $10,000 for Heifer, International and although I am looking for corporate sponsors to help me with a large chunk of this I am also reaching out to my friends. Heifer is a group that I greatly admire for its work teaching people sustainable farming and animal husbandry as well as its promotion of community and I have been donating a set amount each month to this organization for over a year and a half. Anything you can donate to help me meet my goal would be greatly appreciated and I urge you to check out the Heifer, International website at www.heifer.org to learn more about the organization.

Ways to donate to Heifer:
1) Before June 1st – Fill out attached form and mail to me: Contact me at jminnick.sasgATgmail.com for address. Heifer would like me to collect donations and send to them at one time, so there may be some delay with processing checks.
2) After June 1st – Fill out attached form and mail directly to Heifer International at the address on the form.
3) At any time – Donate via the Heifer International website.

If your pocketbooks can handle it, I too need monetary assistance to complete the trip. Funds will go towards daily room and board, various border fees, and the oh-so-delightful rabies shots. This has been a massive organizational project and it is the most challenging thing that I have ever tried to do! I’m excited and there is still so much to accomplish even before leaving. To help with my trip expenses you can either contact me at jminnick.sasgATgmail.com to get my address or donate by PayPal on the sidebar of my website.

Please visit the trip website, www.steady-as-she-goes.com, to read about the progress of my preparations and the journey itself. If you have any questions or comments, contact me by email at jminnick.sasgATgmail.com

I thank you in advance for any contributions and for taking the time to read this. Please pass this on to anyone or any organization you think may be interested in donating.


Nif Mininck

Note: Only donations to Heifer International are tax-deductible.

Download Heifer donation form (pdf)

March 06, 2006

GIS/GPS thoughts

Some thoughts on using GPS to track the route and photos taken on the trip:


Download file

More on this later...

March 05, 2006

Latin America by Bike: A Complete Touring Guide (By Bike)

This is a great reference book to help with planning your trip. Most of the information still applies even though the book was written in 1993. Be sure to do your own research on political circumstances and health requirements before you leave though.

Each country is divided into the following sections:
• Intro to the country
• Cycle Zones – each geographic region of the country is listed whether there is a tour in the area or not. Terrain, Scenery, Cultural Interest, and Weather for each zone is described.
• Tour Route Description with Map – Route described by mile points. The maps are not great, but get the point across.
• General Information: Getting to the Country, Documents, Accommodations, Drinks, Health, Money, and Security
• Cycling Information: Bicycles, Roads, Maps, and Bike Transport (other than riding)

The appendices are fantastic. He has included a packing list, list of recommended shots, temperature tables and biking words in Spanish. These alone have been of great assistance, but the “Safety Awareness Chart” is a little out of date.

The routes are usually circle route – beginning and ending at the same location, but each geographic area is described whether there is a route in it or not. The author does state that the routes are designed for people who have some time in a country to do a limited amount of cycle touring. You can incorporate these routes into your own path with little difficulty.

Note: There is information on but no routes in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, or Uruguay.

Amazon Link: Latin America by Bike: A Complete Touring Guide by Walter Sienko

March 02, 2006

Stuff to Give Away in South America

I will try here first.

What does one take to other countries as souviners to give away? This is usually for kids but maybe adults too. Pencils and erasers? Stickers? Cigarettes? I have no idea, but it would be a good thing to find out.

Perhaps posting to the legions of touring and cycling list will help although they scare me sometimes. People yelling at each other and calling each other stupid for posting incorrectly. That's a great way to make friends. And let's not get into the factions. Mountain bikes vs. horses is one that is currently going on - endlessly it seems.

But really, I have gotten some great info from these sites and expect nothing less than more good info to sift through.


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